Eating for Weight Loss & Health

I’ve read a lot about different diets and weight loss methods over the years. We know, from Science, that simply reducing calories and going “on a diet” is not likely to lead to successful long term weight management. We have the Atkins, South Beach, whole food plant based, and paleo style diets which allow followers to eat abundantly of certain foods while banishing others (carbohydrates, animal foods, oils, dairy, beans, grains, etc) and eschewing calorie counting.

The concept of intermittent fasting/time restricted eating has been gaining popularity not only because it works for a lot of people, but there’s also a lot of science behind it. It’s good for weight loss and it’s good for health. Check out work by Dr. Valter Longo & Dr. Satchin Panda. Because what people really want aside from weight loss is a healthy eating plan for life: one that will ideally lead to longevity & wellness.

So, here is my simplistic dietary plan if you want to lose weight & become healthier in the process!

These are the most important basic principles to follow, in order of importance:

  1. Avoid as much as possible added sugar and refined, processed foods.
  2. Eat mostly plant foods.
  3. Get enough sleep.
  4. At a minimum do not snack and have at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast.

Now let’s chat a bit about WHAT to eat:

Within a Mediterranean diet framework, choose real whole food. Any animal products that you eat should be high quality: grass fed, organic, pasture-raised, and wild caught. Animal protein should not be a large part of your diet. Favor goat and sheep milk dairy over cow dairy. Favor fatty wild caught ocean fish like salmon; avoid large fish which tend to bioaccumulate toxins. Eat a lot of non starchy veggies. Some higher carb foods like legumes, cooked and cooled sweet potatoes, whole intact grains, and fruits can be part of your diet too. But keep in mind all this is a spectrum: you might want to go lower carb and even keto for a short term; you might want to eat slightly more animal products or slightly less. The mix is really up to you, and is not something you must adhere to forever and ever. But make sure plants predominate in your diet! I am a huge fan of Dr. Michael Mosley and his lower carb Mediterranean diet, which is a very sensible way of including a variety of plant foods.

Fasting is key. There are many different styles of fasting. Start with 12:12. Then you can move on to 5:2 or 18:6. Check out work by Dr. Jason Fung and Dr. Michael Mosley. It is better to skip meals in the later part of the day but for most people skipping breakfast works better.

Be active in ways you enjoy. I love group exercise classes like yoga, Pilates, and barre. Especially try resistance training. Walk.

Reduce stress as much as possible. Meditate. Spend time in nature. Tune into your thoughts. Practice mindfulness. Be kind to yourself.

Be with people. Join a group, take a class. Be a social creature. Connect face to face.

Respect your microbiome. All of the above has an influence on your gut bacteria which exert powerful effects on your health and wellbeing.

I hope this is helpful, and a starting point for your weight loss/wellness path!

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